Pranksters jam emergency lines Down Under

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Melbourne, Jan 20 (ANI): It has emerged that the abuse of the Triple-0 emergency number is making it harder for genuine callers to get through to police at communication centres state wide.

It had been reported that calls for help were going unanswered because of understaffing at the Brisbane Police Communication Centre.

According to the police, Triple-0 callers were given priority over the "non-urgent calls", but statistics show that only 4 per cent of calls relate to genuine time critical or life-endangering situations.

The remainder include default calls - made by mistake from mobile phones, deliberate prank calls and calls that amount to a blatant abuse of the Triple-0 number.

Recent examples of "blatant misuse" include a caller wanting help with instructions to cook a pizza and a woman who had locked herself in her house.

A QPS spokesman said they also received numerous calls from intoxicated people wanting a lift home and people who had run out of credit on their mobile phones and wanted police to call them a cab or contact a friend.

"Each time one of these frivolous calls is answered it potentially delays an emergency response to a real life or death situation," the Courier Mail quoted him as saying.

"The calls add to the stress of call takers and put the lives of Queenslanders at risk," he said.

A Police Communications Centre officer said that if they could eliminate all the prank and default Triple-0 calls, their workload would be considerably lighter.

"On Friday and Saturday nights, we get a lot of drunken idiots calling who have been kicked out of nightclubs and want to be let back in," he said.

"They say: 'But all our friends are in there'. We explain that licensed venues have a legal obligation to the responsible service of alcohol," he explained.

The officer said noise complaints were another example of the abuse of Triple-0.

"A lot of people are just too lazy to look up a number for their local police station so they call triple zero to make a noise complaint," he added.

Under a new determination introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority last month, carriage service providers are now required to take steps to minimise the number of non-emergency calls made to the Triple-0 number.

This includes possibly blocking those mobile phone numbers, which register a high number of default or inappropriate calls to Triple-0. (ANI)

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